A prolific artist, McCay's pioneering early animated films set a standard followed by Walt Disney and others in later decades. His two best-known creations are the newspaper comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, which ran from 1905 to 1914, and the animated cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur, which he created in 1914.
His comic strip work has influenced generations of artists, including creators such as Moebius, Chris Ware, William Joyce, and Maurice Sendak.
Gertie the Dinosaur is a 1914 short animated film by Winsor McCay that inspired many generations of animators to bring their cartoons to life. Although not the first animated film, as is sometimes thought, it was the first cartoon to feature a character with an appealing personality. The film was also the first to be created using keyframe animation.
Gertie the Dinosaur was originally created to be used in McCay's vaudeville performances. McCay started performing "chalk talks" on vaudeville in 1906, as a sideline to his regular newspaper cartooning. In 1911, he began presenting animated films on stage, first an animation of Little Nemo in Slumberland. Plans for Gertie were announced in 1912. In January of 1914, the drawings were photographed by Vitagraph Studios. The first presentation of the film was at the Palace Theater in Chicago on February 8, 1914; later performances were at the Hammerstein Theater in New York City.
The performance consisted of McCay interacting with Gertie, a cartoon Diplodocus. McCay would stand on stage in front of a projection screen, dressed in a tuxedo and wielding a whip. He would call Gertie, who appeared from behind some rocks. He then instructed her to perform various tricks, similar to a circus act. He would appear to toss a prop apple to her — McCay palmed the apple while Gertie caught an animated copy of it. Gertie was also seen to swallow a large rock, play with a Mastodon, and drink an entire lake dry. At one point, McCay would scold Gertie for misbehaving, at which she would begin to cry. For the finale, McCay disappeared behind the screen just as a cartoon version of him climbed onto Gertie's head and rode off.
In 1921, McCay planned to make a second animated film featuring Gertie, titled Gertie on Tour. The film would have seen Gertie visiting New York and Washington, D.C., bouncing on the Brooklyn Bridge and attempting to eat the Washington Monument, among other scenes. The film was never completed, and exists only in fragments and concept sketches.
Which can be seen at this link: